Woody Allen has defined his career around a very particular style, and while he embellishes upon that approach in different ways, there's only a few kinds of films he seems to produce. He's turned to light character comedies of late, seemingly to give people a rest from his heavier fare. Small Time Crooks was a breath of fresh air. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion was amusing. Now, with Hollywood Ending, something seems to have gone stale.
The premise has plenty of possibility - Woody as a director, who gets hysterical blindness just before shooting a movie - an attempt to breathe new life into his career. But Woody surrounds himself with characters that are either lesser versions of others we've seen before, or simply weak in supporting the story. It happens to work for about the first third or so, but when the inevitable relationship dramas arise, they feel derivative and less than honest. Woody writes what he likes, and the same old things pop up again and again in his work. The scenario of ending up with the woman who started off completely uninterested, was cute and clever in Jade Scorpion, but here it feels flat and merely What Woody Wants. The only saving grace of the last half of the film is Woody's interactions with his punk son - with only the slightest of nods to the parent/rebel-offspring conventions, the unusual family relationship manages to be interesting, but without the weighty histrionics that typically stereotype such meetings.
Interestingly, Hollywood Ending doesn't have much of a hollywood ending. Aside from Woody's apparent need to get the girl, the result is such an anti-resolution that we wonder what the point of the film was. It's almost like he's making the unusual assertion that it ends when it's over.
If you like Woody Allen, then Hollywood Ending will be watchable, but unfulfilling. If you don't, well, you should probably stay well away from this one.
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